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Tuesday, Sep 02nd

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Nats, Lee County to continue discussions on spring training

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Washington Nationals

Lee County and the Washington Nationals will continue to discuss a move of the team to City of Palms Park for spring training, as officials look at whether the county can afford requested upgrades.

The Nats have already presented a wish list of changes they'd like to see at City of Palms Park, and many of the changes were initially sought by the ballpark's former tenant, the Boston Red Sox, before the decision was made to build a new complex on the outskirts of Fort Myers. The Nats want to see upgraded training facilities, another practice field at the ballpark (the team would also use training fields about a mile to the east), and more.

Whether there is enough money for Lee County to woo the Nats is another issue. The county already committed $80 million in tourism taxes toward JetBlue Park and another $15 million toward a renovation of Hammond Stadium and the Lee County Sports Complex, with the final deal still needed to be worked out with the Minnesota Twins. All expected revenues from tourism taxes are now committed to various projects, so some other sort of financing method would need to be worked out.

The two sides are committed talking move for the next 30 days. Really, the issues are very clear: what upgrades are dealbreakers for the Nats, and whether county officials can come up with the money to pay for them.

The Nats have a contract to train at Space Coast Stadium through 2017, but that lease can be broken once ballpark debt is paid off -- which is scheduled to happen in 2013.

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